It recently occurred to me in the late hours of the night that sleep deprivation is very closely related to the 5 Stages of Grief.
I know. It sounds pretty dramatic. But have you ever tried to wrestle an alligator at 4 A.M.?
Well it goes like this:
- DENIAL. There’s a screech coming from the room where your baby sleeps. Your eyes pop open. It’s been approximately 27 minutes since you laid down your head on that fancy memory foam pillow you were sure would help you sleep. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You think to yourself. “She can’t seriously be awake right now. Maybe she’ll fall back asleep on her own…” But alas! She does not, in fact, (ever) fall back asleep on her own.
- ANGER. “I can’t function on 27 minutes of sleep!” You lament to your helpless baby. “Are you a robot?! Who replaced my tiny precious baby with a battery operated robot?!” You begin to furiously unwind government baby swapping conspiracy theories in your head.
- BARGAINING. “If you just go to sleep I will make Daddy buy you a pony,” you coo in your sweetest mommy voice. “Yes I will, you tiny princess, you can have WHATEVER you want- we will have chocolate cake for breakfast!” You rock and cuddle and negotiate, but nevertheless your tactics prove futile.
- DEPRESSION. Now here’s where things really take a turn. It’s around that 2-3:00 A.M. hour and you start getting philosophical. You begin to ask yourself… “What is sleep? On what plane of existence can it really even be found, and how does one get there? Why was I made a mother, and how can I ever reach my full child rearing potential if I am devoid of any source of energy?” All hope seems lost. And then, finally…….
- ACCEPTANCE.“Okay,” you declare to yourself, mustering what little strength you’ve gathered from your second wind. “I can do this. I’ll just bump up my caffeine intake tomorrow, it’s fine. I’ll be done with coffee by 3 P.M. so it won’t affect bedtime milk. I don’t need sleep. Sleep is for the weak! It’s 4:00am let’s just start the day!”
We’ve all been there. I certainly cycle through these stages in my mom life during seasons when my 10-month-old decides she’s got no need for a full night of sleep. But if I’m being honest, there are times I cycle through these stages in my Christian life as well.
Sometimes DENIAL comes in the form of a pursuit for control over my circumstances, convincing myself that I can take on a situation by myself without needing to seek counsel with my Father first.
Sometimes ANGER comes when the illusion of control slips away and I realize things aren’t going the way I’d planned.
Sometimes I experience the temptation to BARGAIN– to say “God if you get me through this I’m going to do it differently next time- I promise I’ve learned..”
Sometimes DEPRESSION strikes when I lose my focus on things above and get too fixated with the priorities of this world.
But after it all, when God picks me up to dust me off and make me better than he found me, I step into ACCEPTANCE and realize that I need him. I desperately, honestly, truly need him.
I don’t know where you are in the stages of your walk with God, (or the stages of sleep deprivation thanks to those little energy-depleting miracles we love so much.) But rest assured- you’re certainly not the only one there. Just as we enter into a sisterhood when we become mothers, we do the same when we accept God into our lives. We become a part of a whole big family of people who are living the same triumphs and trials that we are.
So in case you need to hear it from a sister today, it’s okay to be in that cycle.
But wherever you are, whether you’re pouring that second cup of coffee and happily declaring your need for your Father, or you’re bargaining with a toddler over mismatching socks at 3 o’clock in the morning, know that you can find your strength in the One who has already overcome the world! Don’t be afraid to share your struggle with your Father in Heaven and with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to seek encouragement through it all. In all circumstances, you have an awesome support system!
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).